Travelling was part of my life in the past decade or two. Seeing beautiful places is an innate passion, but I never dreamed that the beautiful sights in the world will one day unfold before my very own eyes. It is one of God's wonderful blessings and a most welcome surprise. I know how costly it is to be a jet setter, a not so pocket friendly lifestyle specially for a frugal woman like me, who always follow the cardinal rule of prioritizing a "need " first, before a "want"! But if the travel is given for free why not? I need to take a break, energize myself , innovate,and enjoy life. Visiting the beautiful sights that only the rich and famous can afford is an opportunity that I simply can't let go.
Life has no rewind button, so I have to take advantage of any travel opportunity that comes my way, even if it meant leaving a career behind and a one year old son under the care of my parents. I was blessed to see the world on gratis. It was a time when we need to nurture a very young and fragile marriage. The vessel was trading the Seafarers paradise in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador , Peru and Colombia) and Europe. The women are gorgeous, pretty and caring no wonder why any seafarer can easily fall into the trap of falling in love with them. The sea transit may not be easy for a woman who has a motion sickness (sea sick) ...Often times, I survived a 14 days voyage at sea with soup and a glass of warm water only, that's all that my stomach can take, despite the anti-motion sickness medicines that I took before the onset of rough seas. But looking forward to seeing the famous landmarks in ports is a great consolation. In the port of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, I was fascinated by the following beautiful sights:
"The Statue of Christ the Redeemer" ( Cristo Redentor in Portuguese), is a large art deco-style effigy, that stands 38 meters high. The statue is located at the summit of Corcovado mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park standing at 710 meters and over looking the city and the beach. The Redeemer statue is reached by climbing up 222 steps. For those not wishing to make the arduous trek up the mountain, reaching the statue is possible by using the escalators. The view underway up is alluring, but when you are at the top, the sight was a splendor settings.
The Sugar loaf Mountains or Pao de Asucar to the locals , was where I experienced my first cable car ride. It was where one of the James bond movies was filmed. Riding or walking, the Sugar Loaf Mountain is a timeless attraction which should be taken advantage of by all who visit Rio. The views are gorgeous, the photo ops endless, and most of all the experience…..priceless!
The famous beach "Copacabana ", is a four kilometer strip of powdery fine white sand beach that serves up an animated menu of activities and sights as lengthy as its coastline. Swimming in its crystal blue waters, where some beautiful ladies were in skimpy bikinis while others are even nude. I just wished I had their guts and their well endowed bodies. Public display of affection is a sight everywhere, it might be shocking to the ultra conservative tourist but that is part of their culture. It pays to be a Brazilian...amorous , loving , caring, and sugary sweet!
However, being dared by the young Brazilian ladies to dance non-stop : the samba, the lambada, swing, and cha-cha was a ''challenge" that I have bitten the bullet with. Ladies, you may possess that "angelic face , gorgeous bodies and the youth", but I have the "heart and the soul" of the Officer that you are flirting and chasing with. Nevertheless, I gamely agreed to a dance showdown of my life, and am glad that I made it well enough to gain the awe and admiration of the locals. It gave me the chance to show that a Filipino Seafarers wife's is not dumb, but a beautiful woman of character and values. After that incident, during our next calls in any South American ports, no one dared to challenge me again.
The second time we called Rio de Janiero, we experienced the warmth of the "Brazilian hospitality", the vessel's charterer was very generous. They sent bouquet of fresh flowers, basket of fruits and boxes of baked pastries everyday to the ship. Every night, they invited us for dinner ashore in churascaria, live sea food restaurants and other local specialty food shops.
Thereafter, we watched different cultural shows, a prototype of the famous "Carnival in Rio" , sung in upscale music lounges, danced in different disco houses , had a night swimming in the famous Copacabana beach, all through out the one week stay in port. It was really amazing, truly magical Brazil!
Having circumnavigated the globe by sea, as part of a shipboard executive's spouse privilege, made me a better wife . It was a perfect avenue in helping me understand the predicaments of my husband's job, and became less critical nor judgmental of the seafaring professionals in general. It made me more compassionate of their emotional angst while at sea and the sad experiences of the men who were once called the "Prisoners of Steel"..
Vai Brasil...hasta la vista!
Vai Brasil...hasta la vista!
image source: famous wonders.com
This article is also published in http://www.cebupacificpromos.com/notes-of-a-frugal-traveler-part-1/ an entry to their monthly contest.